If you’ve been attending AISB for awhile, you’re probably quite familiar with current issues surrounding worker’s rights; but to what extent do we let this knowledge impact our lifestyles?
As part of the SA group’s Ethical Shopping Campaign, Amnesty International surveyed 60 high school students. The survey showed that although 61% believed H&M is guilty of child labor, 80% continue to shop there regularly. In addition, 75% want to help but don’t know how.
Time and time again we are told that brands like Inditex promote sweatshop labor yet we choose to do nothing about it. Why is this? Our theory is that ignorance and disregard for the repeated reminders is caused by a lack of ethical alternatives that are advertised to us.
The truth is, we don’t have an excuse. Many of us can afford to make sure that the workers making the clothes on our backs don’t have to fear going to work. If there is anyone who can make a change it us. It’s time that we get our priorities straight. We can’t just turn a blind eye anymore.
This article introduces brands that are at the forefront of a reform. All the companies mentioned in this article have one common goal and that is to push us to live a more ethical and sustainable life starting with the way we dress. While we only go in depth describing the principles and approaches of five companies, stay tuned for more noteworthy brands at the end of this article.
Since the early 2000s, American Apparel has been able to overcome controversy surrounding the means of production by which they use to manufacture their clothing. Thus, they epitomize acknowledging the issue of sweatshop labor and addressing it– wanting to see change in the world.
American Apparel repays the hospitality of the Less Developed Countries (LEDCs) that are generous enough to host their facilities and provide them with adequately priced labor. They address the issue from three different angles. These are health, environment, and education. Employees in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, and Central America benefit from free healthcare. Furthermore, American Apparel promotes Biotop which is a method of treating used water by naturally balancing its pH levels. Finally, they provide funding to schools in close proximity to their factories in Central America. Read more about all that American Apparel is doing to better the lives of its employees under their ‘Social Compliance’, ‘How It’s Made’, and ‘Our Community’ sections on their website.
The Acey embodies contemporary clothing that is created consciously. They create partnerships and give a voice to the brands that meet their standards of innovation and integrity, making ethical and sustainable clothing more widely available.
A great example of the contributions they are making to the world of fashion is their choice not to participate in Black Friday nor Cyber Monday for the third year in a row. The environmental detriment these commercial and profit-oriented sales bring to our world are no secret. The Acey justifies this decision using the quote ‘Resistance is better than regret’ from the book Dress with Sense. This quote perfectly describes the mentality of the brand which is further discussed here.
Reformation recognizes the byproducts of fast fashion such as production emissions, freshwater scarcity, climate change, pollution, and waste. They work to combat these through sustainable methods of manufacturing beautiful and high-quality clothing. A large part of their clothing production takes place in a factory in Los Angeles which hosts tours every month so customers can see the conditions under which their clothing is made.
The company truly touches on every aspect from sustainability to safety and care. They even provide customers with a guide on how to make laundry time more eco friendly. Reformation is exceedingly transparent about wages and factory life, carbon footprint, and recycling. You name any subproblem of sustainability and they probably have at least a paragraph addressing the brand’s stance on it under the ‘Who we are’ section of their website.
Filippa K is perhaps one of the most candid brands out there at a rate of 95% supply chain transparency to the customer. They are also part of the Fair Wear Foundation and Swedish Textile Water Initiative (STWI).
Year after year, without fail Filippa K publishes a sustainability report which evaluate the label’s success at meeting their goals in terms of minimal negative impact. The report is structured remarkably and is very well thought out. Take for example, their ‘Front Runner’ criteria which includes 12 different measures of a brand’s sustainability. Among these are respect for people and animals, fit and comfort, and recyclability. They are truly a role model for all other fashion brands and their approach at sustainability is one that is respected in the industry. Read more from their last sustainability report here.
Won Hundred acknowledges the many challenges presented by corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the context of the textile industry. They emphasize the importance of maintaining the well-being of our earth especially in terms of pollution and animal welfare. They reaffirm that a brand’s negligence towards the resources of their suppliers should never be excused by its size or demand.
All around, they put the utmost devotion into promoting a sustainable lifestyle while still creating street wear that appeals to those who might not specifically be in the market for ethical clothing. These principles are best demonstrated by their latest campaign the ‘Green Cross’. The marking on the label indicates that the garment is made out of organic materials. This initiative proves their willingness and hopes for a more sustainable world.